Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Daily Strike-10/27/09-Lieberman in the Dog House and Other Health Care Shenanigans

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. This health care reform saga is getting too tumultuous for even a political junkie like myself. But it's my duty to inform of you what's going on, so here we go.

LIEBERMAN: The grassroots progressive community has found a new enemy. Actually, it has rediscovered one of its oldest and fiercest enemies. Today, Joe Lieberman, who promised when he ran for reelection in 2006 that he would support universal health care, said that he would vote to filibuster the Senate health care bill as it is currently written. He says he is inclined to vote for the cloture motion on the motion to proceed, so that the bill can come to the floor, but he is reserving the right to vote against shutting off debate on the bill itself. In other words, Lieberman is making no distinction between a procedural vote to move the bill forward, and the bill itself, a distinction he was happy to make in 2005 when he voted to cut off debate on a bankruptcy bill that he opposed.

Lieberman's reasons for opposing the bill are absolute baloney, and I say that with all due respect for the man. Here is his exact quote:

"I think a lot of people may think that the public option is free. It's not. It's going to cost the taxpayers and people who have health insurance now, and if it doesn't it's going to add terribly to the national debt...there's so much in this health reform legislation that is so good, that I think they're just putting an unnecessary burden on top of it by creating another Washington-based entitlement program."

Does Joe Lieberman know what the public option is? It will not cost the taxpayers one DIME because it will be funded like any other insurance plan, with customers paying premiums. Secondly, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the public option actually saves the government money, as much as $100 billion if it is based on Medicare payment rates. Finally, this is not an entitlement program! I can't even believe he said that. Again, people who use it will have to pay for it, and it will only be available to those who don't have health insurance through their employers, some 10% of the population.

Either he is just plain ignorant, or he's lying on behalf of the health insurance industry that is so prevalent in his state. Perhaps its both. Ezra Klein and others seem to think that once Lieberman is pushed around a little bit by members of his caucus, he won't get in the way of reform. I think there is some merit to that. He may just be positioning himself as an opponent to win whatever concessions he wants. Or he's still bitter about losing that primary to Ned Lamont in 2006. The bottom line is that the Democrats have such a small margin for error on health reform, that they have to rely on loons like Joe Lieberman. We shouldn't have to water down a perfectly good bill to win the support of people like Lieberman who have no clue what they're talking about.

Nate Silver
sums this all up very well.

HEALTH CARE: Despite Lieberman's idiocy, Senator Reid is still planning on introducing the full health care bill in the next couple of days after he gets a cost estimate from the CBO. Over in the House, Majority Leader Hoyer said that Democrats will be ready to unveil their health care bill by Thursday. The caucus is still determining whether to include the "robust" public option, based on Medicare rates, or the watered down public option. Various reports indicate that Democrats don't have the votes for the former, and will therefore have to choose the latter, which won't make the liberal members happy, but probably won't cause many of them to vote against the bill. Either way, we're hearing that a decision will be made by the end of the day Thursday. Even if a bill comes to the floor late next week, a final vote may be pushed off members have enough time to debate the bill (or so we can save ourselves from Republican complaints about the process). We'll keep you posted.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President made an unheralded by important announcement today in Florida that he is investing stimulus money into grants for smart electric grids (grids that produce "clean" electricity.) The President promised to create a "smarter, stronger and more secure electric grid" – and pledged to make clean energy "profitable." This may seem like an insignificant announcement, but it is the biggest investment ever in clean electricity grids. It's a reminder that however frustrated we can get with President Obama, he's still doing a lot of good things.

This evening, the President campaigned for Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds who appears poised to get his clocked clean in next week's election. It makes you wonder whether Obama really wants to be a part of this likely political train wreck, though it seems like he made arrangements to campaign for Deeds before Republican Bob McDonnell surged to a large lead.

THE SENATE: The Senate today finally voted to proceed to consideration of a bill to extend unemployment. Democrats have been trying to pass this bill for weeks, but Republicans have held it up because they want to consider a bunch of unrelated amendments, including one dealing with ACORN (again!!). The Senate voted 87-13 to cut off debate on the motion to proceed to the bill. This means, that if Republicans are still bent on delaying action, we'll have to wait to vote on the actual motion to proceed to the bill, a motion to cut off debate on the bill itself, and then the bill itself. That could take the rest of the week if Republicans don't agree to any sort of time agreement. That agreement can only be reached through unanimous consent, which is impossible to get with so many crazy members on the Republican

The Senate is supposed to consider several other bills this week, including a continuing resolution.

THE HOUSE: Not much action in the House today. Members did vote for a Republican motion to instruct conferees on the Department of Interior Appropriations bill. No word on what this motion stipulated, but it's non-binding, so I tend not to occupy myself with it too much. The House also disposed of a few suspension bills. They'll move to more serious business tomorrow.

That's it for us tonight. Leave us some comments!!

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